ASTANA -- A ceremony was held today in Astana for the beginning of classes at a new university named after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
Nazarbaev said at the opening ceremony that Nazarbaev University "will become a national brand of Kazakhstan that will combine the advantages of the national education system and the best of international research and education practice," the university's press service reported.
He told prospective students: "Young people should try to enroll in this university. I have agreed to give my name to it, so you should not fail me."
Prime Minister Karim Masimov also met today with representatives from several foreign universities to sign partnership agreements for Nazarbaev University. Among those reportedly working with the new university in some capacity are University College London, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Wisconsin, Duke University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pennsylvania.
University officials said the school will eventually be able to accommodate some 20,000 students and teachers and offer degrees in engineering, natural science, and medicine.
Nazarbaev said university graduates will receive diplomas that will be recognized in Kazakhstan and abroad.
This year, 500 scholarships covering tuition and room and board have been allocated for Nazarbaev University students.
By 2012, a graduate school of business and public policy is due to be opened, and doctorate and master's degree programs are also planned.